Let the Healing Power of Laughter Boost Your Health Ministry
I am thrilled to announce a new contributor to NEHM: Terra Hoskins. One message I heard at our national conference in May was the desire for more focused communication. As a result of those conversations, I have asked Terra to generate content for our blog, assist with managing our social network communications, and provide support for our overall communications strategies. You will be hearing much more from Terra in the coming months. Here is her first blog post for NEHM. Welcome, Terra!
-Matthew Ellis, CEO of NEHM
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
- Proverbs 17:22
It seems downright silly that by telling a joke, watching a comedy or sharing a story, you could be fighting disease and healing. But laughter is a powerhouse when it comes to good health.
When you laugh, you fight inflammation, stimulate endorphins and boost your immune system, among other benefits. It’s the one prescription celebrated integrative physician Dr. Frank Lipmann says he’s happy to disperse.
How does laughter make you well? The medical community has researched physiological and psychological effects of laughter; the science behind laughter’s transformative nature is interesting, but you reap the benefits whether or not you understand why it works. The biggest surprise to me was finding out that you actually experience greater healing power when laughter is shared.
Laughter is healing; laughter is social.
Incorporating laughter into a health ministry is like adding vegetables to a healthy meal: it makes a healthy thing even healthier. As you develop your health ministry, think of ways to bring together people of all ages to have fun. In a group setting, laughter is bound to happen:
- Group storytelling. Create a story one person--and sentence--at a time. The story will get more ridiculous, and the fun is to see what each person adds.
- Volunteering at the Humane Society. Animals are great healers and comforters. And they can be silly when they’re happy. What makes them happiest? The opportunity to play with you!
- Children’s performance. Kids say and do the darndest things; whether its singing, a play or sports-related, watching kids put on a show can be hilarious.
- Sing-a-long with the older adults. My grandmother couldn’t converse with me or remember who I was due to dementia, but I watched, stunned, that she sang every lyric to every polka the assisted living activity director played. Watch the elderly light up and get swept up in the laughter of their memories.
- Improvisation games. There are many good ones to choose from, but improvisation helps people engage and create funny situations. The trick is to be in the moment and free your mind. Whether you play or just watch, there is guaranteed laughter.
- Game night. Any excuse to bring people together and relate brings the potential for laughter. Whether you play Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit or Go Fish, the act of connecting provides emotional healing, a sense of belonging.
These are just a few ideas you may want to consider. What ideas are generating belly laughs in your health ministry?
Terra Hoskins contributes to the NEHM and NEAC blog on a freelance basis. Drawing from a background in sales, communications and Internet marketing, she helps organizations create an online presence and use the Internet to expand business. Follow Terra on her blog: http://terrahoskins.com and on Twitter: @terrahoskins.